Masking in murder: An exploratory study into the act of covering the victim’s face in UK homicide

Lee Rainbow, Caitlin Benson, Louise Almond, Alicia Tandy, Michelle McManus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (SciVal)


Previous literature suggests that covering of a homicide victim's face by an offender indicates a pre-existing relationship. Operational definitions discriminate between three forms of victim covering (i) Masking (ii) Cloaking and (iii) Concealment. 126 UK homicide cases were examined to explore whether any evidence-based investigative inferences could be supported in cases of victim covering viewed through an instrumental/expressive framework. No statistically significant differences were found between face covering behaviour and the relationship between victim and offender, previous convictions, and offender age, although there was a high frequency of elderly female victims of masking. The findings are discussed in relation to offender-profiling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-32
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling
Issue number1
Early online date11 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the following persons for their assistance with this research: Sarah Rock and Sarah Galambos.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • crime scene behaviours
  • homicide
  • offender profiling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology


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